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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Twelve in Ten Challenge: Peach Pie

I didn't have any intention of baking a pie for this month's Twelve in Ten challenge. But I found myself with a crate full of peaches and a free evening and decided to go for it. I admit, this was a nerve-wracking task. Yes, because of all the horror stories I've read about the terrors of pie crust. Yes because I've seen pies bubble over or ooze out from the top. All valid concerns. But my biggest? My grandma. You see, my grandma is quite possibly (and my opinion obviously isn't biased one bit) the world's greatest pie maker. I've grown up enjoying slices of her pie, whether it be apple, pumpkin, strawberry rhubarb, and yes, peach. So I've spent twenty-three years spoiled by grandma's pie. I'll be honest, I scoff at store-bought pie. I refused to eat the pie that my college dining hall served. Why bother?

So you can see the conundrum I found myself in when I added "making a pie from scratch" to my challenge list. Without my grandma here to teach me one by one each step in her pie-making process, I was essentially setting myself up for disappointment. But alas, I had added this task to my Twelve in Ten list and I was not about to let one month slip by!

And so I begin, first selecting a few recipes to work from (I'm saving grandma's recipe for a time when she's with me to show me, no messing around!). My food processor came in handy as I prepped my crust and before I knew it I had two large mounds of crumbly dough awaiting me. Nervousness taunted me. I was convinced I'd wasted butter and flour and would soon be tossing it all in the trash. Yet I pressed on (no pun intended!), rolling and shaping my dough, mending the inevitable cracks as I went along. Carefully I transferred my crust to the dish and went about preparing the filling, an easy task compared to the beast formerly known as pie crust.

I snuck a few bites of sugary peaches and found myself getting optimistic. Maybe, just maybe, this pie would work out. I crossed my fingers before adding the top crust and carefully pinching the edges together. Before putting the pie in the oven I breathed a sigh of relief. If nothing else, at least it looked like a pie should.

Forty-five minutes later my kitchen was thick with the smell of cinnamon and peaches. I peeked into the oven to find a perfectly cooked pie. Giddy with excitement, I removed the pie and made my way to the couch, where I twiddled my thumbs until Ryan came home from class. A short while later I heard the garage door open and immediately returned to the kitchen to cut pieces of the still-warm pie. Accompanied by scoops of ice cream, we sat down and dug into what would be my first 100% homemade pie.

The verdict? Success! No, it isn't grandma's pie. But that's to be expected. And really, I wouldn't want it to be. Grandma's pie is grandma's pie. Yet my pie, my peach pie, with its flaky crust and thick peach filling, is nothing to complain about!

Double Pie Crust
recipe from Simply Recipes (great step by step pictures here!)

-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
-2 sticks unsalted butter, cold into 1/2 inch cubes
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp sugar
-4-8 tbsp ice water

1. Cut the sticks of butter into 1/2 inch cubes and place in the freezer for 15 min-1 hr until thoroughly chilled.
2. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6-8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea siz pieces of butter.
3. Add ice water 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again (mine took the full 8 tbsp).
4. Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs. Knead the dough, just enough to form the discs, do no over-knead (you should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough).
5. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
6. When ready to bake, remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
7. Add filling to pie (see below for peach pie filling)
8. Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently place onto the top of the filling. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears. Score the top of the pie with a few cuts, to let steam escape.
9. Bake at 375F for 45-60 minutes, until pie crust is lightly browned.

Peach Pie Filling
recipe adapted from several found online

-5 cups peeled & sliced peaches
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup flour
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-sprinkle of nutmeg

1. Toss sliced peaches with sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle peach mixture with nutmeg.
2. Lay peaches in pie crust. Dot with butter before adding top crust. Bake as directed above.